- Travis Haney, ESPN Staff Writer
By now, it’s a foregone conclusion that Johnny Manziel will declare in January for the 2014 NFL draft.
Manziel has already indicated, rather bluntly, that he is ready to leave College Station, Texas, behind. And even Texas A&M people who like Manziel a lot, in their most honest moments, would admit having some degree of Johnny Football Fatigue Syndrome.
When he goes, where will he go? Is Manziel a first-rounder? That’s the question I have set out to answer, by polling a smattering of scouts, draft experts and coaches.
As far as our own experts, Manziel is not yet on Mel Kiper’s Big Board of the top 25 overall prospects. He has risen to No. 28 for counterpart Todd McShay, although McShay still sees him as a second-rounder. Both note, though, that Manziel is on the way up.
Can he crack the first 32 picks come April? Here’s a look at five key factors that will determine whether Johnny Football is first-round material.
1. Football is not an issue
There were some questions about Manziel’s throwing ability following his freshman season, but his improved arm strength and patience in the pocket have been noted by scouts. Both are reasons why McShay has continued to move Manziel up his board.
I talked earlier in the week with his position coach, Jake Spavital -- who previously worked with Brandon Weeden at Oklahoma State and Geno Smith at West Virginia -- and he said the difference in Manziel’s approach and mechanics has been very apparent this season.